What is an ASCAP Consent Decree?

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is one of the largest performing rights organizations in the world, representing the rights of many composers, songwriters, and music publishers. As a result, ASCAP holds a large amount of control over the licensing of musical compositions, which raised concerns about its potential to act in an anti-competitive manner. The ASCAP Consent Decree (“Decree”) with the United States established rules and regulations for ASCAP’s licensing of musical compositions and the distribution of performance royalties to its members. The ASCAP Consent Decree was the result of antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding ASCAP’s monopoly power in the music licensing market. ASCAP is one of the largest performing rights organizations in the world, representing the rights of many composers, songwriters, and music publishers.

What Is the Purpose of the ASCAP Consent Decree?

ASCAP was put in place to address concerns over ASCAP’s potential monopoly power in the music licensing market. The Decree requires ASCAP to offer licenses to its entire repertoire on a non-discriminatory basis and to provide transparency in its royalty distribution practices; meaning that it cannot selectively choose who it will license its music to. The Decree is periodically reviewed and amended to reflect changes in the music industry and promote a fair and competitive market for music licensing. The Decree also requires ASCAP to provide transparency in its royalty distribution practices, so that members and licensees can understand how royalties are calculated and distributed.

How Does ASCAP Affect Licensing?

The Decree established a rate court system, where ASCAP’s licensing fees can be reviewed and determined by a court in the event of a dispute with a licensee. This helps to prevent ASCAP from charging unreasonable licensing fees and provides a mechanism for resolving disputes. Overall, the Decree serves as a safeguard against monopolistic practices in the music licensing market, promoting competition and fairness for music creators and licensees.

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Silvino Diaz

Silvino E. Diaz’s practice ranges from Civil and Commercial Litigation to Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. Silvino has earned a reputation as one of Puerto Rico’s foremost advocates for independent musicians and artists. As a result of his sustained commitment to creative industries, he was named Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Atlantic University College (Guaynabo, PR) – the Caribbean’s leading digital arts institution – where he spearheaded the “Introduction to IP” course for both the graduate and undergraduate programs, and was appointed by the Office of the President to develop an Intellectual Property graduate curriculum, where he served until moving to Miami in 2017. He is the founder of the service known as Starving Artists, where he offers innovative business and legal counsel for artists and creatives.


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